Fuel Smarts

FHWA Grants Vision Waivers

April 06, 1999

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The Federal Highway Administration has gone ahead with plans to issue waivers to 23 truck drivers who do not meet federal vision requirements.

All of the drivers granted waivers have impaired vision in one eye. They all hold commercial driver's licenses that allow them to operate intrastate and have accident-free and citation-free driving records. The exemptions will be good for two years, during which time the drivers must undergo annual vision and physical examinations.
The agency announced plans to issue the waivers last December, citing revised waiver authority granted by the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century.
Objections by J.B. Hunt Transport were the only comments received. The carrier argued that if the vision standard was an appropriate standard, it should be applied without exception. Otherwise, it should be changed. J.B. Hunt also expressed liability concerns, noting that carriers must either be given the right to legally refuse employment to a driver with a vision waiver, or receive a "hold harmless" agreement from FHWA relieving them of liability if a medically exempted driver has a traffic accident.
FHWA responded that carriers already have the right to impose hiring standards that are stricter than those required by the federal government. However, employers must be prepared to justify those standards if challenged under the Americans With Disabilities Act.
The notice appeared in the April 5 Federal Register, which can be accessed on the Internet, at http://www.access.gpo.gov.

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